Monday, 16 March 2015

The Changing Skyline

At intervals along the Thames and on the bridges crossing the river there are a number of plaques showing the key buildings and monuments spread out in the vista before you. The stupefying rate of new building and developments taking place in the City of London in recent years means that these plaques are already out of date - there's the Gherkin but no sign of the Cheesegrater or the Walkie Talkie (spectacularly ugly when viewed from afar but dizzyingly impressive when standing directly underneath and looking upwards). A forest of cranes is sprouting up on this stretch of the Thames so no doubt shortly there will be many more of these giants, dwarfing both the ugly 70s and 80s buildings fronting the river as well as the classic proportions of the old city churches, Fishmongers' Hall and on the other side of London Bridge, Old Billingsgate Market and the Custom House. It saddens me to see the churches in particular with their spires almost struggling to reach the light, hemmed in on all sides by these monoliths - like delicate wild flowers being bullied by rampant weeds! It makes you wonder when this will all stop and what sort of City we are going to bequeath to future generations.

Turning away from the river and looking to the sky on this south bank, you can see the top of the Shard trying to mimic the turret of Southwark Cathedral - I like to think of it as an homage, a little piece of visual inspiration. The path soon deviates away from the river and takes you past the Clink prison and the old ruined Winchester Palace, the replica Golden Hind and the rather depressing array of fast food restaurants and tourist haunts, before emerging again in a quiet little spot to rest and look upon the passing river whilst contemplating Sir Walter Raleigh's words:
There are two things scarce matched in the universe - the sun in heaven and the Thames on earth......

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